By: Greg Mitchell
From the New York Post’s lighthearted tone this morning, you have to wonder if the paper’s Tuesday “gaffe” announcing that Kerry had picked Gephardt as his running mate was really an accident.
Surely the Post sold a few thousand extra copies of that edition to New Yorkers dripping with excitement over the prospect of Gephardt as Veep. Then, when Kerry picked Edwards instead (probably just to make the Post look bad), the paper no doubt sold several thousand more extra copies as collectibles. Finally, this morning, it probably had to boost its press run to meet high demand for today’s front page poking fun at its “mistake.”
Well, maybe not, but with that in mind, perhaps we will see, in the days ahead, Post headlines such as:
THE POST IS CLEARED: Gephardt Actually Turned Down Veep Nod!
KERRY: I Might Still Change My Mind
Edwards to New York (Post): DROP DEAD
CHENEY DUMPS BUSH
BRANDO STILL DEAD: Hey, We Got THAT One Right
What Do You WANT for 25 cents?
Of course, other papers could join in the fun:
Los Angeles Times: “Tribune ‘Only Kidding’ About Those Cutbacks”
The Boston Globe: “Bambino Denies He Cursed”
The New York Times: “Sunday Book Review Names Judith Miller Fiction Editor”
The Washington Post: “Woodward Identifies Deep Throat: Nixon Himself”
All of this caused me to dig out my favorite collectible (next to my 1909 Christy Mathewson card and 78 rpm of Louis Armstrong’s “St. Louis Blues”): a New York Post parody from November 1984.
According to the masthead, it was produced, brilliantly, at the height of Reagan-era nuclear tensions, by several writers who have gained a higher profile in the years since: Kurt Andersen, Nicholas Lemann, Lewis Grossberger, and Kurt Loder, among them.
The front page hed proclaimed: “KABOOM! It’s World War III,” with the decks: “Michael Jackson, 80 million others dead,” and “Reds nuke U.S. after Ron taunts, ‘GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY.'”
The issue was touted as the “Absolutely Final” edition of “America’s Only Surviving Newspaper.” Above the logo the Post’s “JINGO” game promised a $3 billion jackpot to anyone who could “find a fact inside.” The paper also promised a “Special Bonus 5,000-Page Obit Section” the following week.
The weather forecast for tomorrow (and tomorrow): “impenetrable darkness.”
Inside pages continued the theme. A story about the Post surviving while the “hoity-toity” New York Times expired was titled: “We’re Glowing with Pride.” A report from the city of Hiroshima was headed: “Oh no, not again!” The man in the street asked Brooke Shields, David Brenner and Curtis Sliwa where they were “when the big bang boomed.” Always boosterish, the Post screamed: “STILL A HELLUVA TOWN. The Bronx is up and the Battery’s melted down.”
And on it went with headlines such as: “GOOD RIDDANCE. U.N. Out of New York at Last” and “Blue Cross Asks for Rate Hike” and, from Page Six, “H’wood Won’t Touch Nuke Story” (it’s too downbeat, says Barry Diller).
In a guest column, attorney Roy Cohn promised: “We’ll Sue Their Ass!” Evans and Novak observed that the nuclear war would “shake out political winners & losers.” A Post editorial declared, “What a year!” and thanked god that it was Ronald Reagan’s “steady finger on the button.”
The conceit continued in the back of the book with a survivalist column by Dr. Joyce Brothers, a full comics page (with Garfield complaining, “Radiation sickness is the pits”) and totally blank TV listings. Dear Abby tried to calm a girl whose boyfriend was pressuring her to “go all the way” since they were “all going to die anyway.” The gardening column, naturally, had to do with “Caring for dead plants.”
A tribute on the sports page noted that “Amid the tragedies of yesterday’s World War came one more violent aftershock: Toby Harrah is gone.” It was headed: “THE LAST HARRAH.”
Now, let’s see if the Post can top that this week.